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Judge Partially Grants Motion for Judgment on Pleadings in FDCPA Case Involving Hired Attorney

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings related to one count that it violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when it sent a collection letter to a plaintiff who had told a previous owner of the debt that she was represented by counsel, but denied the motion on a second alleged FDCPA violation.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Zachial v. Cascade Capital, LLC can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff began working with a legal aid service, which sent a letter to a creditor that the plaintiff was now being represented by counsel and directing the creditor to cease all communications with the plaintiff. The debt was sold by the creditor to the defendant, which placed the plaintiff’s account with a third-party collection agency. The agency sent the plaintiff a collection letter, seeking to collect on the unpaid debt. After receiving the letter from the collection agency, the plaintiff retained new counsel and sued the defendant, alleging the defendant violated the FDCPA by contacting her after she demanded that the original creditor stop contacting her, and contacting her even though it knew she was represented by counsel with respect to the alleged debt.

Judge Andrea Wood of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on the first count of the complaint, but denied it for the second, ruling that when the original creditor turned over its notes on the account to the defendant, “it is plausible” that those documents would have mentioned the letter from the original attorney.

The defendant argued it did not know the plaintiff was being represented by counsel, and Judge Wood noted that further discovery may reveal how much the defendant knew when it purchased the account.

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